The ads are on TV and radio and the sales are in full swing in the stores. You guessed it, it’s ‘Back To School’ time! Having taught school for seventeen years, I always found I had a mixture of emotions around this time of year:
- Excitement – starting a year with well-rested students, new faces and a whole new class!. It’s like Christmas in September!
- Sadness – the lazy, hazy days of summer that were filled with, “What are we going to do today?” were going to end.
- Anxious – knowing that I was going to hit the ground running and not stop until the end of June made my shoulders creep up around my ears!
Parents, you may likely have or have had similar emotions:
- Excitement – Finally, the kids are going back to school!
- Sadness – Yikes! Back to our routines that tie us to schedules that never seem to end.
- Anxious – Is my son/daughter going to end up with some friends in their classroom and WHO is going to be their teacher?
Whatever you are feeling right now, ensuring your kids are organized can make for a great start to a new school year. Here are my Top 10 tips:
- Establish routines – make organizing a part of every day. For example, teach your kids how to pick up after themselves. Whether it be clearing off the table or putting a book back on the bookshelf; incorporate organizing every day.
- Establish simple routines that are age appropriate. For example: instead of saying, ‘Clean up your room,” you could say, “I’d like all the dirty laundry in the hamper please.”
- As your kids grow older, add more responsibilities. By doing so, you are teaching them responsibility as well as life-long skills. For example, you would not expect a 6 year old to do their own laundry. You may however, expect your 16 year old to start doing their own laundry.
- Avoid keeping EVERYTHING your child brings home. Projects will come home at an alarming rate (especially in the primary grades). Create a space to temporarily show off the art. Take a picture of it before you recycle it. By taking a picture, you can then create a photo album of memories. The photo album can be an on-line photo album or a printed album – your choice.
- Model good time management. If you are finding yourself consistently running out the door, five minutes late, set your morning alarm to go off twenty minutes earlier. If making lunches in the morning is causing you to be late, start making all (or at least the majority) of the lunch the night before.
- Have your kids, along with yourself; establish when homework should get done. Some kids like to come home and have a break. Some prefer to come home and tackle homework right away. Find what works best for each of your children and your family situation. You may find that what works best for one of your kids does not work best for another. Each learner is unique in their style and how they learn- important to remember!
- Ensure you have supplies on hand for homework. Back to school shopping is a great time to purchase a ‘home set’. Markers, felt pens, pencils, erasers, pens, ruler, etc. are just a few items that you can have on hand at home. By having a ‘home set’, time is not wasted by your child trying to find a blue marker to finish off a title page! Ensure the ‘home set’ is put back after using.
- Create a space for time sensitive paperwork that needs your attention. Have your child take out any papers and put it in that space. Whether it be an ‘inbox’ or a spot on the counter. Once the paperwork has been placed for you to look at, it is your responsibility to ensure you have read and signed it.
- If your child has an agenda, sit down with them and write in any activities they may have. Even though the agenda is for writing in homework and notes from the teacher, you and your child can also write in any practices, games, activities, holidays, etc. This models proper planning and also allows the teacher to see what your child is involved in.
- During the holidays (Christmas, Easter, etc.) plan a day with your child to purge. I know….how exciting is that?! Truthfully, purging with your kids can be fun IF you look at it with that perspective. As you reminisce about that t-shirt that used to fit or the artwork that your child was proud of, it truly can be a lot of fun. Bag up the clothes, take a picture of the artwork, recycle the paper and enjoy the newly found space!
I’ve included my Top 10 above, but there are many more time-saving, organized ways to run an efficient household. The trick is to establish, right off the bat, some routines that allow your home to run smoothly. If that means you need to get up thirty minutes before your kids do, then so be it. If it means that you, or your spouse, has to do some extra prep work the night before to ensure smooth sailing the next morning, then do it. You will love yourself in the morning when there’s no panic (or yelling) going on!
I would like to leave you with one thought about running an organized home: when your kids get to school, their teacher will have routines they like their students to follow. Their teacher will have ‘rules’ when using classroom supplies (putting the book back on the shelf). Your kids will follow those routines and rules at school without hesitation, without questioning, and without refusal. Why not have some routines and ‘rules’ set-up in your home?
Have a great day!
Sheri Bruneau – Get It Together Inc.